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Avo’s Story to Getting Back on His Feet

Patient Stories, Orthopedic, Pain Management

Avo Maleky has always been active. His job as an air conditioning contractor is pretty physical, and when he’s not at work, Maleky can be found playing or coaching soccer, hiking and camping. That is, until about five years ago, when osteoarthritis in both knees made him give up his favorite activities.  

“It was really bothering me, the pain,” Maleky recalls. “It got to the point where I was coming home and putting ice packs on both knees just to be able to sleep.”  

Fortunately, a friend told Maleky about Michael Abdulian, MD, an orthopedic surgeon at Adventist Health Glendale.  

“My wife and I did our own research and learned Dr. Abdulian is one of the best orthopedic surgeons in California,” Maleky says. 

After a workup that included X-rays and an MRI, Dr. Abdulian told Maleky what he had suspected: that his osteoarthritis was bad enough to warrant surgery. What Maleky didn’t expect is for Dr. Abdulian to recommend partial knee replacement rather than the traditional total knee replacement.  

When partial is better 

Partial knee replacement is a procedure in which only the damaged portion of the joint is replaced with an artificial part, as opposed to replacing the entire knee joint. It’s a specialized operation that not all orthopedic surgeons offer.  

“While more and more practices are offering them, there is still a large percentage of surgeons who don’t do partial knee replacements,” Dr. Abdulian says. “Unfortunately, because of this, many patients who are candidates for partial knee replacement end up getting total knee replacement.”  

People whose joint damage is localized to only one area of the knee, don’t have any joint instability and have an adequate range of motion can be good candidates for partial knee replacement.  

“Nothing is as good as the knee you were given when you were born,” Dr. Abdulian says. “With a full knee replacement, the ACL must be cut. With a partial knee replacement, the ligament is spared. That helps maintain normal mechanics and helps the knee to still feel like your own after surgery.” 

It also means less pain and a shorter recovery time compared with total knee replacement. 

Surgery and beyond 

In February, Dr. Abdulian performed double partial knee replacement on Maleky. The very next day, Maleky began rehabilitation.  

“Surgery accounts for maybe 15 percent of the healing process,” Dr. Abdulian says. “The rest happens in rehabilitation. It’s very, very important for patients to fully commit to therapy to get the most out of their new joint.” 

Maleky is the epitome of committed.  

“I’ve done my exercises every day since the beginning,” he says. “By the seventh day after surgery, I wasn’t taking anything for the pain. On day 10, I was able to walk around my house without my walker.” 

Back to business 

Three months after surgery, Maleky returned to work on light duty. Today, he can get around easily, walking unassisted and climbing stairs without a problem. Finally pain-free, he can’t wait to get back to hiking this summer.  

“We’re already planning a camping trip to Mammoth,” Maleky says. “I’m excited to start doing the things I love again.”  

Orthopedic surgeon: Ryan Morgan, MD 

Ryan Morgan, MD, is an Adventist Health Glendale orthopedic surgeon who specializes in sports injuries and joint preservation. While he has developed a reputation as the “shoulder guy,” Dr. Morgan treats all kinds of sports injuries, including those affecting the knees, elbows and ankles, and he has served as team physician for several Los Angeles professional sports teams, including the Dodgers and Lakers.  

An athlete himself, Dr. Morgan understands physicality and performance. “Athletes demand a lot of their bodies,” he says, “and performing at 95 percent isn’t enough.” 

Dr. Morgan specializes in arthroscopic surgery, a minimally invasive procedure that uses a tiny camera inserted through a small incision to view, diagnose and repair torn ligaments, cartilage and tendons, and for the treatment of rotator cuff and other overuse injuries.